Border region benefits from research by environmental science PhD graduate

19 DECEMBER 2022

Border region benefits from research by environmental science PhD graduate

A love for the outdoors and being around animals led a Charles Sturt University PhD graduate and University Medal winner to aim to enhance the ecological health of the Border region environment and its rural communities.

Dr Anna Turner (pictured) graduated with an honours degree in animal science in 2013 and, after a few years  working in agriculture and outdoor education, returned to Charles Sturt to complete her PhD in environmental science.

She was awarded a University Medal at her graduation in the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences in Albury on Tuesday 13 December.

“I was attracted to Charles Sturt University to complete my undergraduate studies as it is a regional university with small campuses and a tight-knit community, and these factors drew me back to complete my PhD and build a life in the Albury-Wodonga region,” Anna said.

Anna lives with her partner Dale and a menagerie of animals on their farm on Dhudhuroa country near Tallangatta in north-east Victoria.

While she is not the first in her family to go to university, she is the first to complete a PhD and win a University Medal.

The University Medal is the highest honour that a student can receive. (See criteria in Media Note at end.)

Anna lived in numerous places growing up and took time to travel in her early 20s both in Australia and overseas. This included a year on student exchange during her undergraduate degree through Charles Sturt Global.

Her interest in environmental science evolved over time as she followed her interests and passions and was exposed to new experiences and met different people.

“I chose my supervisor Associate Professor in Ecology Skye Wassens, having enjoyed working together during my Honours year, and I was interested in wildlife disease and wanted the project to be field-based, so with much discussion and planning the rest fell into place,” she said.

During her PhD Anna surveyed populations of the endangered Southern Bell Frog to determine if they are infected with the deadly amphibian chytrid fungus and if so, how does it affect their population age structure, growth rates and their survival under different water management scenarios.

“This research will help build on the understanding of how amphibian chytrid fungus is impacting frog populations in climatic regions that were predicted to be outside the tolerance range of the fungus,” Anna said.

“It will also aid in the conservation of the Southern Bell Frog and be incorporated into advising environmental water management decisions.

“The findings of my research have now been published in international scientific journals and the information is being used widely in amphibian conservation.”

When asked what kept her motivated during her studies when things became challenging, Anna said, “Just taking one step at a time and having an outlet outside of study and work that helps keep life balanced and interesting.

“Time-out with my horse or in the garden has always helped keep me on track, both during high school and my years as a student at university.”

Anna now works as a Research Associate with the Murrumbidgee Monitoring, Evaluation and Research program through Charles Sturt University. The research team works to monitor the ecological response of environmental water delivery to key wetlands in the Murrumbidgee River catchment area.

“This involves time in the field monitoring fish, frogs, turtles, waterbirds and water quality, as well as data analysis and reporting, team management and supervising interns,” she said.

Anna hopes to keep building her research profile through projects which have on-ground application for conservation.

She hopes to further develop her research skills and continue building working relationships within the local community to maintain the important link between research findings and management decisions.

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Dr Anna Turner contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or

Higher Degree by Research University Medals are awarded annually to one master’s by research graduand/graduate and one doctoral graduand/graduate, per faculty.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to be nominated the candidate must have qualified for a master’s by research or doctorate award within the calendar year for which the medals are to be awarded and:

For doctoral candidates:

  • have completed within four years (full time equivalent) from the commencement of candidature or extension of this timeframe due to exceptional circumstances; and

  • have achieved as examiner recommendations, a minimum of two passes plus a third outcome that is determined as indicating outstanding quality from examiner’s evidence, as determined by the Sub-Dean, Graduate Studies and/or Dean of Graduate Studies.

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Albury-Wodonga Animal and Veterinary science Research Science